I'll keep this brief. Yes, it's been a year. No, I'm not dead. I've just been busy dealing with stuff over the past year that kind of stopped me from writing. I fully intend to keep going with this story, although the next chapter might be a month or so away. Don't quote me on that, I already have a track record of sucking when it comes to promises. Chapter Seven still needs to be thoroughly edited.
Cheers for anyone still looking forward to reading and made it this far! Big thanks to: Doomguy914, Cruzerblade, Dmoose18, and Kamaru for beta reading this chapter!
Awakening the next morning, Gohan found that his nightly rests hadn't changed all that much.
Sitting up, he saw Shirone still sleeping soundly on the couch, while Kuroka was missing. There was a delicious smell in the air though, akin to cooking food. Judging from the light that seemed to be pouring through the curtains, he theorized that it was earlier in the morning. He absently wondered how that artificial sun worked. He had read that it was created to mirror the human world because there were a vast amount of reborn Devils that happened to be human and missed the day and night cycle.
Apparently, the Underworld didn't use to be like this. The current four Satans had gathered and altered the flow of space and time to mirror that of the human world. A moon and sun were created, and it was all supposed to be for the comfort of the reincarnated Devils. It was incredibly thoughtful of them to do something like that to help the newer Devils transition into their new style of life. A quick glance at his bedside clock confirmed his suspicions on the time. Eight o'clock in the morning. Not bad really.
Gohan liked to think he was more of an earlier riser than most. Years of being woken up to train by his father, and to study by his mother, had drilled into an internal body clock that refused to go away despite being displaced in an entirely new dimension. With a yawn, he threw off the covers and got out of bed. Having slept in some clothes, the hybrid warrior made his way over to Shirone to wake her up.
He gently shook her to wake her up. The boy watched as she calmly stirred, her eyes fluttering to get the sleep out of them. With a yawn of her own, she stretched and sat up to face the smiling boy.
"Good morning," Gohan said warmly. "Sleep well?" the girl only nodded in response. She aimlessly looked around, wondering where her sister had gone when she had seen that Kuroka was indeed absent from the room. A very brief flash of panic crossed her face before disappearing with a look of curiosity, her nose twitching at the welcoming smell of cooking food.
"Where's Kuroka?" Shirone asked softly. A quick stretch of his senses told him that the older Nekoshou was downstairs with Serafall, no doubt responsible for the delicious smell they were both experiencing.
"Downstairs, cooking food with Serafall I think," Gohan replied happily. Offering a hand to the sleep-hazy girl, she took it and crawled out of her sleeping spot. She was still wearing her white yukata that she and Kuroka seemed to wear. Letting out one more yawn as she stood up, she immediately headed towards the door. When she got there, she patiently turned and waited for Gohan to follow. He started off after her, opening the door when he reached her. He wondered why she had waited and hadn't just left? She seemed like the silent type. He wasn't quite sure where to start to get her to open up a bit more.
Maybe it was expecting too much. They'd only just bonded the other day. A lifetime of abusive service would have her sparing as few words as possible out of habit. Besides, it seemed like Kuroka did most of the talking anyway.
The two walked side by side down the hallway of the Leviathan Mansion, heading towards the kitchen. Gohan noted that Shirone kept to his pace rather than making her own way there. It was strange. Not once had she taken her eyes off him either. The two stood at the same height so it was hard to ignore her curious stare. It made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Just the way she kept looking at him made him wonder if she was expecting something.
A weak chuckle from him had her pausing her movement. He made it a few steps in front before he had noticed she stopped. Looking back, the girl seemed to continue staring, as if his mere existence dumbfounded her.
"You okay?" Gohan asked. Her nose wrinkled at the question as the gears in her mind started to turn.
"Why did you save us?" she asked simply. The question somewhat caught Gohan off guard. Kuroka hadn't even asked that and seemed pretty accepting of her situation. If anything, the half-Saiyan could tell that Kuroka didn't really care why they had been saved, just that they had been. The black-themed Nekoshou just seemed grateful for what happened and wanted to keep rolling with the punches rather than question the hand fate had dealt. Shirone seemed a little bit more thoughtful, if not skeptical of her supposed savior.
"Just felt like the right thing to do," Gohan replied simply. "Why…? Don't you like it here?"
"I do," she responded quickly. A shy look overcame her as she took a step back as if all her courage that she had somehow mustered to even ask the question had evaporated in an instant. Her tail curled up to her hands as she started playing with the tip like a nervous child. Gohan could easily tell it was a nervous habit she had developed over the years. It wasn't exactly difficult to guess why it had developed. "I'm sorry."
"There's no need to apologize. It's fine. I'm not going to hurt you for talking and asking questions," Gohan explained with a reassuring smile. Shirone calmed down a bit, gathering up her nerves. Kuroka wasn't here at the moment and her older sister had told her on multiple occasions that she wouldn't be around to help her in every situation. While Kuroka shielded her from the brunt majority of the abuse from their ex-master, that still didn't mean there weren't scars both physically and mentally.
"I just wanted to know," she started again. "You're the first nice one I've met."
"Really?" Gohan wasn't really sure if he should feel shocked or disgusted. Aside from her sister, was it really that bad? Misery seemed to like its comparable company. Perhaps Shirone and Kuroka never really got to experience the nicer side of the Underworld. He had seen his fair share of scumbags, their ex-master included, but there was a good majority of Devils that acted as nice as any normal person would. Both pure-blood and resurrected. "No one aside from your sister has shown you a shred of compassion?"
Shirone shook her head sadly.
"A few of the other peerage members," she said softly. "Kuroka didn't like some of them though. Said they were just as bad as the King, despite being treated just like us."
Gohan found himself questioning once again, what kind of world he had landed in more than three years ago. None of that made any sense to him. He couldn't for the life of him understand the thought process of some of these Devils. Did some of them actually like cruelty? Did some of them actually enjoy being treated like trash? Or were they too scared to speak up? It had to be the latter. It just had to be.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Gohan replied sympathetically. "You know, you may be a member of my… uh… peerage," he said with some uncertainty. In reality, he wasn't sure how comfortable he was with the idea. Perhaps he should ask Grayfia to teach him how to trade pieces, however, he didn't want to upset Kuroka or Shirone. "But that doesn't give me the right to tell you what to do. You are your own person, just like me, or anyone else. If I ask anything of you, know that I'll do it out of friendship, never because I can."
Shirone didn't give any physical or verbal reaction. She just stared at him, an emotionless visage painted on her features. Gohan resisted the urge to shift uncomfortably or laugh nervously. Shirone definitely had a pair of eyes on her to be able to stare at him for so long without blinking.
"You're a good person," Shirone said finally, walking up to Gohan and wrapping her arms around him. It was completely out of left field. The boy could practically feel her heartbeat against his chest. A light blush spread across his cheeks as she departed from him, a light blush of her own. "Thank you, Gohan."
"No problem," he replied softly.
"Ooooh?~" a voice sounded from behind Gohan. The boy turned to see Serafall and Kuroka peering out from the door frame, only their heads visible. The voice had come from Kuroka. The two were smirking fiercely as if they were suddenly aware of a very inappropriate inside joke. "SO sorry to interrupt," she continued with lewdness to her tone not present before. "We came to get you two. Breakfast is ready. Unless… you want to have each other for breakfa- OW!"
Kuroka rubbed her ribs as Serafall elbowed her, a twitching smile on her face.
"Huh?" Gohan was genuinely confused on that one. He was aware of lewd teasing from Serafall and Akeno but he couldn't decipher the meaning of that one.
"Gross," Shirone said blandly, glaring at her sister.
"Come on you two," Serafall laughed walking over to the two children, a strained smile on her features. "We went through the trouble of making a delightful breakfast, it would be a shame if it went to waste because someone couldn't keep a lid on unsavory comments!"
Grabbing both of them by the hands, she led them to the kitchen, passing a smirking Kuroka on the way. While Serafall knew she was being rather hypocritical when it came to lewd teasing, she knew there was a time and a place and now was not one of them. She often did it for her own amusement anyway, to ease the burden of head splittingly boring paperwork. Her queen proved to be rather dense, but after enough of it, he started to catch on as he hit puberty.
As the group entered the kitchen, they were greeted by what seemed like a feast fit for twelve people. Pancakes, French Toast, and virtually most luxury breakfasts were lined up perfectly on the table like visual art. Serafall danced around to the other end of the table and gestured to it with both arms.
"Tada!" she exclaimed happily. "This is my 'Welcome to the Leviathan Family' party! Since you two lovely little kittens happen to be a part of my queen's peerage, you will be staying here for the foreseeable future. I thought it only best to welcome you to my- our home," Serafall explained happily. Shirone was so enticed by the food on the table she literally did not hear a word Serafall had said and had begun drooling.
"Good thing I caught you doing all this," Kuroka took a seat and crossing her legs. "You did need some help after all."
"I did," Serafall chuckled sheepishly. Gohan was still shocked at the amount the two had made.
"Whoa… I've never seen you make so much food before!"
"Well, I know your appetite," the Leviathan King stated with bland amusement. Now it was Gohan's turn to chuckle sheepishly. "Half of it is for you."
"Shirone and I have pretty big appetites as well, but seeing as we were forced to moderate our food intake, we've never really had the pleasure of eating until we're full," Kuroka explained as she began loading up her plate will all different kinds of delicacies. There was enough here to give a diabetic person a heart attack just by looking. Seriously, the amount of sugar could actually be smelt in the air. "Don't mind if I do…" she murmured, devouring a few dishes in seconds.
As it turned out, Kuroka and Shirone had pretty sharp teeth. If the older sister tearing through some meat wasn't evidence enough, Gohan wasn't sure what was. Watching Kuroka devour the food in front of her with such disregard for table manners was kind of nostalgic. Reminded him a lot of his father in a way.
Gohan and Shirone took a seat and started eating away at the mountains of food in front of them, the former acting more like Kuroka when it came to food, while the latter took a much more calm approach, however, eating just as much as the other two. Serafall sat at the head of the table, a single plate of food with utensils, watching as her servant and his two servants mowed their way through the food she had taken hours to prepare.
"I'm going to need a bigger salary," were her only thoughts.
"So," Serafall started, taking a sip of water. "Some ground rules."
"Booo," Kuroka drawled sardonically. Shirone shrugged at the mention of rules and just kept eating, as did Gohan. He was already aware of most of the rules Serafall had imposed on him when he started living here. It was only fair, seeing as he was technically freeloading. Although, now that Kuroka and Shirone were here, there were bound to be more set in place.
"First, no fighting inside!" the Leviathan said seriously. "I make an effort to keep this place clean and spotless. I don't want that ruined because one of you decided to practice your magic inside. Do it out the front."
"Yeah, yeah," Kuroka waved off, continuing to eat lazily. Shirone and Gohan nodded easily, the latter already knowing that it was a rule.
"Second, don't leave any messes! If you make a mess, clean it up! Third, and this one applies to certain people here…" Serafall trailed off, looking at both Shirone and Kuroka specifically. "No walking around without underwear!"
"Oh come on!" Kuroka retorted indignantly. "You can't expect us to follow that rule!"
"Why not?" Serafall countered, an annoyed look on her features. "That's the most reasonable request I've made so far! Er, arguably."
"Sounds reasonable to me," Gohan shrugged, knowing full well what the Leviathan King was referring to.
"These clothes are the only things Shirone and I own!" Kuroka replied hotly. "Also, as Nekomata, it is uncomfortable to wear underwear without forcibly retracting our tails! I personally don't like it. Besides, underwear is overrated," she concluded. Shirone didn't seem to have much of an opinion on the matter. The term 'underwear' made her nose wrinkle as if she didn't approve of it, but she didn't express her discontent with it.
"You're practically naked under that yukata!" Serafall counted, causing the older cat-girl to shrug.
"Everyone's naked underneath. What's your point?"
Gohan watched Serafall bite her lip to stop herself from screaming. It wasn't that he disagreed with her at all. It was rather hard to not look at Kuroka and hide a very obvious blush. The girl flaunted her body like a fashion model. The half-Saiyan knew Serafall was only imposing that rule for his own benefit. The son of Goku was very well aware that living in a house where girls walked around naked wouldn't be very good for his mental health. So he wasn't about to complain.
He absently wondered if girls were like this back home. His mother certainly didn't have any of these characteristics. He'd be very concerned if she did. Neither did Bulma from memory. Actually, the only memory that came to mind was his space trip to Namek with Krillin and Bulma. The latter tended to walk around in her Underwear and tended to be a bit of a slob. However, that was the only instance he could think of.
He was too busy training mentally with Krillin to actually pay all that much attention.
"My house, my rules," Serafall stated finally, a tinge of embarrassment on her face. "Please, just… I'll take you two shopping and you can pick what you want. Just follow these rules please," the Leviathan girl asked nicely, her voice a little shaky. It was very obvious she wasn't going to win an argument about clothing with a borderline nudist.
"Sure," Kuroka said simply. "I guess if that's going to be a rule, we can learn. There's bound to be Nekomata friendly clothing around. Besides, I've never been shopping before. Sounds fun, right Shirone?"
"Mmhm," the younger cat-girl retorted, her mouth full of food. Kuroka finished up and patted her stomach. She stood up and stretched and then with a burst of demonic energy, all the food she had eaten metabolized. She then looked at Gohan who had also finished up.
"Alright then, little King," the girl started. "How about that spar?"
"We just ate," Gohan complained. "Do we really have to do that now?"
"Just accelerate your metabolism with your demonic energy, it's not hard."
Gohan and Serafall shared an incredulous look, both shocked that such a skill could even be conceived with the uses of demonic magic. Truly, the limits of Demon Magic was really just imagination. Anything could be created with the right thought process and power. The half-Saiyan really had to broaden his horizons when it came to his skills in magic. The only thing he had managed to do was self-healing, and even then, he was such an amateur at it.
His Devil Magic was far more complicated to learn, due to the fact that he had trained to master his ki his whole life. The concepts and methods were completely different. The only analogy he could think of was being gifted with a whole new set of muscles and having to learn how to use and develop them. It took a few years for him to really start to get the hang of it. Even now, he still had trouble. His main skill set was still what he was taught by Piccolo and his father though.
"We'll spar soon, Kuroka."
"I'll be outside waiting, kay?" she waved, heading out the door. Gohan sighed dramatically, knowing that for however long he remained here, that girl would be a piece of work. A cough from his King drew his attention to her. Serafall had her arms crossed, staring at him expectantly. A sheepish smile overcame the half-Saiyan's features as he stood up from the table and started stretching. In a magical flash, Gohan changed his clothes into a familiar orange fighting gi.
Grayfia and Serafall had taught him how to change his clothes with a simple demonic spell. It was one of the most basic spells a Devil could learn. Partly teleportation magic, but as long as the clothes existed in his possession, he could summon them onto his body at will. He had since managed to remake his father's iconic gi with the help of Serafall. Apparently she had a thing for sewing and clothing. She had designed and made her own magical girl outfit based on her favorite manga series.
"Spar, huh?" Serafall drawled curiously. "You only met her yesterday and you two already want to fight each other?"
"It was her idea," Gohan defended. "Besides, I've been slacking with you being busy all the time. Not that it's your fault of course with your duties."
"Can't help it," she shrugged in response. "Demon Lord duties and whatnot. They take priority over training. Can't have the leader of the Foreign Affairs slacking off! Then the Underworld relations would fall apart."
"Kuroka just wants to see if I'm as strong as she thinks I am," Gohan continued, agreeing with Serafall's previous sentiment. "Based on how I dealt with her and Shirone's previous master, she's under the impression I'm way stronger than I let on. She also claims that she is much more powerful than that guy."
"Sister was the strongest," Shirone added, finishing her food. "Thank you for the meal," the smaller girl smiled at Serafall. The Leviathan practically squealed at how cute Shirone was. Gohan noted the silver cat-girl's words carefully. Most Devil's walked around with their power un-suppressed. Whether it was an arrogance thing or not, the hybrid warrior wasn't entirely sure. Yesterday, Kuroka certainly wasn't outputting the same energy as the arrogant High-Class Devil, which led him to believe she was capable of suppressing her power.
If that were the case, he was in for a more interesting fight.
"No transforming," Serafall stated quickly as Gohan started towards the door. A small frown crossed his face as he rolled his eyes. Turning, he saw a deadly serious look on her face. "I'm serious. That power can be felt all across the Underworld. Every time you've used it, Sirzechs and the rest of us panic because we think we're under attack."
"I get it," Gohan waved her off. "You've already made that clear. No Super Saiyan while in the Underworld-"
"No," Serafall cut him off. "No Super Saiyan… period. No matter where you use it, it will draw unwanted attention. Only use it when you absolutely have to. That doesn't include spars or training."
"I know," the boy emphasized that time, a look of annoyance overcoming his features. "But if I'm not allowed to transform, then how am I supposed to train my ascended form? You haven't even seen it, yet you've forbidden me from even using it. If the situation calls for it, how am I supposed to bring it out if I can't control it?"
"We'll figure it out. I told you, we'll need a controlled environment for you to practice… whatever that form is, and I'll be there to supervise it," Serafall replied hesitantly. The name Super Saiyan gave her anxiety. Her queen was strong enough while in that golden form. She shuddered to think just how powerful he would become when he used this 'ascended form'. Granted, not a single person had seen it yet purely because she had forbidden him from ever using it. Only she had knowledge of it. Serafall even struggled to believe that Gohan could actually get even stronger than he already was.
"Hey!" a voice echoed from the outside. "I'm waiting! Come on!"
Gohan quickly gave Serafall a thumbs up before dashing out of the kitchen. The Leviathan girl sighed as she motioned for Shirone to follow. The two Devil girls made their way outside to see Gohan jump into the air, easily clearing a whole hundred meters, before landing on the lawn, a fair distance away from Kuroka. Serafall summoned two comfortable seats for herself and Shirone to watch. Setting down a few magical wards around them and the two were good to go for this spar.
"Okay, you wanted me, here I am," Gohan chuckled doing a small jog on the spot to get the blood flowing. Kuroka stood completely still, her arms crossed under her large chest. He noted that her power was rapidly expanding, although, she didn't look at all strained from the power she was generating.
"Give me a moment," Kuroka requested as she shifted her stance. Her eyes fluttered closed as her form was covered in a purple glow. Suddenly, a second tail sprouted from her back, twirling and waving about with her first. The look of shock on Gohan's face was evident. The amount of power she had suddenly gained was phenomenal.
Her power had increased almost tenfold!
"Whoa…" he breathed.
"That's better," the black cat-girl exhaled, opening her amber eyes. "If you're curious, we Nekomata get stronger the more tails we have. I just recently managed to achieve my second tail. That made me very dangerous within my previous peerage. I could have easily destroyed our master," Kuroka boasted. Gohan had to give her credit. Her power was far beyond that of the High-Class Devil he had embarrassed. This might be a more interesting fight after all.
The hybrid Saiyan decided to keep the ball rolling, allowing his own power to rush forward and explode around him into a fiery white flame. The sheer force had Kuroka stumbling backward, the environment around the boy being repelled on all angles. Serafall's protective wards around her Mansion and both her and Shirone kicked in, blocking the powerful gusts of winds that Gohan was generating. A brief glance at the younger Nekomata told Serafall all she needed to know. Her eyes were wide, mouth agape and completely speechless.
"Your sister may be strong," Serafall started as Gohan roared, his power increasing almost as much as Kuroka's did. "But she's still no match for my queen," she finished, a hint of pride and arrogance leaking into her voice. The young fighter slipped into a stance, allowing his power to equalize. Kuroka had since managed to regain her balance after having lost it in the sudden explosion of power.
"Okay," Kuroka growled lightly. "Hadn't expected such an explosive display of ki. I guess I'll-" she lost her train of thought when Gohan vanished from sight. Now, normally, any normal person would probably panic after having lost sight of their opponent. However, while Kuroka could not physically see Gohan move, she could still sense him. Her Senjutsu allowed for complete and utter sensory dominance in her area.
She sensed him move behind her.
Swinging around, she painted a few symbols in the air as fast as she could, summoning a powerful magical barrier. Gohan appeared exactly where she had sensed him move to, only to watch as he threw his fist forward, shattering her defense like a sheet of glass. His fist found its way to her stomach.
A force Kuroka couldn't describe properly slammed into her, winding her absolutely.
The black cat-girl found herself airborne as she glided across the lawn. She back-flipped elegantly and managed to land on her feet, both hands clutching her stomach. Coughing and spluttering, she fell to her knees, a feeling of sympathy for her ex-master entering her head. Gohan had hit her much softer than he had with that bastard Devil master. He had hit him so hard it had forced the man to spew blood.
Kuroka was lucky, only having been winded.
At moments like these, she desperately wished she had the durability of a rook. While she was extremely powerful with her Senjutsu and other magical arts, it was only boosted by her mutated bishop piece. The boy- no, her King- had completely broken through her defense like it was nothing. Not a single person had been able to do that, yet here he was, arms crossed and smirking at her injured form. A growl elicited from her throat as she healed the initial damage.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were a master of Touki," Kuroka commented rather sourly as she returned to her feet. The casual, fun look in her amber eyes had since vanished after the first blow, replaced only by an intense gaze of concentration. Gohan was only twelve years old and yet he looked like an athletic fighter. There wasn't a shred of fat on the boy. "Guess those muscles aren't just for show."
"So I've been told," Gohan retorted with an amused smirk. "I don't know much about Senjutsu and Chakra. I was only taught how to use my ki. I've trained my body far beyond my limits. I'm actually quite amazed you followed my movements."
"I didn't," Kuroka replied bitterly. "I was able to sense where you moved with my Senjutsu. I can sense every bit of life within the area. I'm not the best at it, but if I wanted to, I could turn the environment against you. My sensory dominance allowed me to track your movements perfectly, but physically, I couldn't keep up."
"You don't seem physically strong either," Gohan quipped, causing the girl to flush angrily. Gohan raised his hands in a surrender motion. "I mean no offense. It's weird. I've only really fought with Serafall. She has the same problem you have. If I can get close, you lose your advantage. You are incredibly powerful, but that's only your energy… or magical output," the half-Saiyan commented as if he were trying to explain it to himself. Kuroka merely sighed.
"I'm a bishop piece, remember?" she stated, crossing her arms over her chest once more. Gohan made an 'O' with his mouth. "We aren't physically strong at all. Our specialty lies in our ability to create incredibly powerful spells. Your fighting style obviously would match more of a rook. You'd probably have more fun sparring with my sister than me," she muttered bitterly. Kuroka was aware after that first hit that this fight wasn't going to end in her favor.
That didn't mean she didn't want to continue though.
"You knew you weren't going to win this spar?"
"After that first hit, you broke through one of my more powerful defense spells like it was nothing. I doubt my strongest spell would fare much better," Kuroka replied thoughtfully. "How in the seven hells did you get so strong? I've spent my life training so I could protect Shirone and in one hit, you've undermined all that effort and you're four years my junior!"
"Get dragged into enough life and death battles in your life and you tend to adapt very quickly to match the strength of others. I've been fighting for as long as I can remember. I learned never to give up, no matter how much the odds are against me," Gohan smiled nostalgically as he remembered the way his father fought. Aside from the time he gave up against Cell, but that was more of a tactical decision than anything else. "So don't just give up, Kuroka! If you think so negatively, you'll never win!"
"I'm a realist, sweetie," Kuroka smirked back at him. "Your incomprehensible speed… your strength…" she glanced over at Serafall who just waved from her seat, a knowing smile on her face. "No wonder you're the Leviathan's queen. I just wanted to see what kind of power my new King was packing. I have to say, I'm glad Shirone and I ended up in your peerage."
"It sounds like you're giving up," Gohan sounded rather disappointed. "Come on, don't give up now. I want to see what else you've got! I haven't really had the chance to see what Senjutsu is like in action yet! I've only read about it in books."
"I'm not throwing in the towel yet!" Kuroka retorted hotly. "I'm aware I'll lose, but that doesn't mean I don't want to try."
"Well?" Gohan goaded, slipping into another stance. "Show me what you got!"
"Okay, Gohan," Kuroka thought as she mustered all the power she could. Amplifying her power with her demonic magic, Senjutsu, and Touki, the ground cracked beneath her as an ominous purple aura surrounded her. The energy Gohan was sensing was all over the place. It was astonishing how different it was fighting these people as opposed to the enemies he's fought back in his universe. "I'm coming at you with everything I have! Let's just hope I can handle this intake of Senjutsu…"
The black cat-girl's features became more feral and defined, her previous frown turning into a scowl as she wrestled to control her sanity. Senjutsu was a double-edged sword. The more she boosted her own power with it, the faster she was losing control over her mind.
The young warrior slipped into a defensive stance, eager to see what she would pull out of the bag. Serafall had a vast magical arsenal, but her specialty was elemental magic, specifically ice-based spells. He had trained against her for quite some time now so this fight with Kuroka was important for him to learn how to fight against techniques and magic he didn't quite understand yet. Judging from the brief encounter he had with her before, he could already tell she had a whole different set of spells to use. Come to think of it, it actually had Gohan excited.
Just like before, Kuroka raised a hand and started painting symbols in the air before her. Each kanji glowed a darkish purple as she created more as fast as she could. The older Nekoshou realized Gohan wasn't making any offensive moves, coming to the conclusion that he was allowing her the opportunity to attack first. With a growl, she steadied herself, determined not to waste this chance.
She summoned a dense magical fog with her Senjutsu, hoping it would slow down Gohan's perception enough for her to get in a few attacks. Kuroka knew she had to pull out all of her tricks if she was even going to land a blow, let alone do enough damage to harm him. The fog covered the area, the light purple cloud surrounding both Kuroka and Gohan, the latter being affected by the effects.
"If I can get close enough to attack, I can disrupt his flow of ki. Given how much he has, the blocks I put in place will be destroyed almost instantly. I just need a single moment to get in some attacks," Kuroka thought as she flashed throughout the fog. With her speed at maximum output, she could sense Gohan standing absolutely still as she circled him like a predator. With her Senjutsu enhanced senses, she could almost feel Gohan. His breathing was calm and his body still. It threw her off just how tranquil his state of being was.
Regardless, she steeled her nerves and pushed the attack.
Closing in for a strike, she surrounded her hand in demonic energy, ready to strike.
Swiping, she hit nothing but air. Kuroka was left speechless as Gohan's form shimmered in front of her, like some kind of faulty connection of a television.
A palm connected with her side, throwing her completely off balance. Skidding to her right, the cat-girl went for a counter-attack where Gohan's form appeared. Kuroka hadn't even realized that a furious look crossed her face.
"His senses are supposed to be slowed!" she thought angrily. She attacked again, every limb coated in Senjutsu and demonic energy for maximum damage. However, each attack she tried to make was dodged effortlessly. Deciding to make the smarter choice, she retreated to a safe distance and summoned a number of magical circles. Each one glowed with an incredible amount of power as a volley of energy erupted from each one, bombarding Gohan's position.
She halted the moment Gohan's presence vanished from the cloud of smoke. She traced his energy to the spot behind her. He stood there, without a single scratch on him. Kuroka took a shaky step back. This kid was no joke.
"Okay, show off," the cat-girl growled. "Is my fog just not affecting you? What's the deal here? Your senses are supposed to be slowed down!"
"It's doing something," Gohan admitted looking around curiously. "Although it's not really noticeable. I just feel a bit sleepy is all."
"That's just insulting," Kuroka thought furiously. Thrusting out both hands, she painted more symbols in the air. A translucent purple box surrounded the half-Saiyan. He examined it with a curious look, even placing a hand on the inside wall. It was a box completely made out of magic. With a quick swipe of her hand, she filled the box with a poisonous mist, causing the boy to hold his breath. She felt his power surge, an obvious attempt to break out. "Now's my chance!"
She shot forward the moment Gohan exploded out of the box and attacked him. His guard was down, his attention having been focused on getting out of the magical prison. Slamming one of her fists into his torso, she heard him cough as he skidded back a few meters. Kuroka wasn't about to let this opportunity slide! She had landed a hit and had managed to successfully disrupt the flow of his ki! He'd be confused! Now was the time to strike.
She shot forward as Gohan stumbled around for a second, confusion on his face.
"Hang on-" he tried to say before Kuroka appeared behind him and kicked him forward. She drove a hand forward and shot a few blasts at him, all connecting with a smoky explosion. A smirk crossed her face as she flashed straight towards him, utilizing her amateur skills in spatial manipulation. Delivering another combo to the boy, she tossed him across the battlefield much to his dismay. The cat-girl chased after him with a sweet look of victory on her face.
Gohan managed to recover, a frown crossing his face as he steadied himself while he was on his knees. He watched Kuroka close the distance quickly enough to get his heart racing. However, the girl had gotten cocky. His fast and sudden recovery allowed him to dodge, despite his ki being disrupted. The look on her face morphed to one of shock when the half-Saiyan angled his body away from her attack.
Grabbing her arm, he spun her around and tossed her away. Assuming a stance, he growled as he wrestled control of his energy back. Roaring, a white flame covered his body, the disruption fizzling away, as if whatever was blocking his control had been annihilated inside his body. It was a good thing he was powerful enough just to break whatever had taken a hold of his power.
"No!" Kuroka cried as she recovered, only to see Gohan's energy return. "That was my one chance to win!" she slammed the ground in frustration. Gohan flexed his hands, eyeing them curiously. He wasn't hurt at all, despite the attacks he withstood from his opponent. She wasn't really strong enough to do any kind of serious damage to him with his guard up. However, she had surprised him a good deal, as he had expected.
Magic really was hard to anticipate and defend against.
"How weird," Gohan murmured as he looked at his bishop. "What did you do?"
Kuroka gave a huff as she sat on her backside and crossed her arms. Serafall and Shirone came up behind her, the former looking very impressed while the latter looked sympathetic towards her sister. Shirone wasn't used to seeing Kuroka lose so badly before. Every opponent she came up against she either crushed or fought hard to defeat. Not once had she seen her older sister concede or end up defeated in a fight until now.
"Phew! What a show!" Serafall exclaimed happily, giving the older Nekoshou a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "You've got quite the range of talents there, Kurokie," the Leviathan giggled. The defeated girl only glared at the Devil Queen in annoyance, the nickname not doing anything to quell the frustration that had built inside of her, despite knowing that she would have lost the fight from the beginning anyway. Maybe it was the glimmer of hope she had gained that made her angry.
"It's okay," Shirone wrapped her arms around Kuroka, instantly squashing the negative emotions Kuroka had inside of her. "You're still the best big sister."
"Awww!" Serafall cooed. Inside her mind, she was daydreaming that it was her and Sona instead of Shirone and Kuroka. Oh! How she envied their relationship! Why couldn't Sona be more affectionate like that!? It wasn't fair!
"Thanks, Shi," the older sister turned and gave the girl a soft head pat. The two shared warm smiles as Gohan approached. Noticing this, Kuroka stood up to face him, a heavy sigh escaping her. "Honestly, I thought I had you there. You recover way too fast."
"Not really, you just got sloppy," Gohan stated in a matter of fact tone. Kuroka flushed in annoyance. She was getting ready to blast him verbally before he held up his hands in a surrender motion. "Ah-! I mean well, yeah, but I guess I've been learning to fight without relying on my power so much. My prowess got me out of that situation. Speaking of… what exactly did you do to me? I had to take a few moments to regain control of my energy."
"Senjutsu," Kuroka retorted simply. "It's a tough concept to explain. I'm no master at it yet, but I'm able to control ki, both in and around me. If I was much better at it, I could have disrupted the flow of your energy from a distance. I'm not that good, so I had to get close and actually hit you to do it," she explained. However, despite verbalizing it, there was a question that actually formed in her head. "Though, it shouldn't normally work on someone as powerful as you are. I am very… obviously weaker than you," she strained to say, the statement hurting her pride somewhat. "How did I manage to affect you?"
"That's an easy one," Serafall cut in with a smug look on her face. "Gohan lowered his power. He was probably going easy on you. With his power somewhat closer to yours, your Senjutsu was able to properly block and disrupt the flow of his ki!"
"Meaning," Gohan started. "It wouldn't have worked if I was fighting at a higher level."
"I need to get stronger," Kuroka deadpanned. She released a heavy sigh and ran a hand through her hair. "Damn… and here I thought I was already on track to becoming one of the strongest devils around."
"Eh, don't beat yourself up about it," Serafall laughed. "You'll have plenty of opportunities around here! This is your new home after all."
Kuroka and Shirone both mellowed at that word. It hadn't been one they used for a very long time. Finally, it seems it had meaning once more.
The name didn't sound familiar at all, to the half-Saiyan, which was why he prompted the question. Rias, Akeno, and Sona had come knocking at his bedroom door just moments prior. The only people that occupied the room were Kuroka, Shirone, and himself. In walked the three teenage girls, all dressed in fancy school clothing. Just from the design, Gohan could tell it was a prestigious school. Rias and Sona probably wouldn't have settled for anything less.
The uniform was eye-catching, to say the least. A white long-sleeved, button-down shirt with vertical linings with a nice black shoulder cape to top it off. A black stylish button-down corset that impressively hid the magenta vertical lined skirt beneath it. Rias and Akeno looked like they were wearing a size down, considering how tight their uniforms were around the chest area. It wasn't like he wasn't going to notice that deal.
Going through puberty, along with spending the majority of his time around females made it hard not to notice these things. Kuroka and Serafall even went the extra mile to point it out sometimes and tease him about it. Oh well, it wasn't like it bothered him that much anyway.
"Yep!" Rias responded cheerfully, giving him a twirl so he could see every angle. Akeno stifled a giggle while Sona merely rolled her eyes at the dramatic display. "Pretty cool huh? Since we're fifteen now, we are eligible for Kuoh Academy. We just finished our second week there. Japan is such an amazing place!"
"Yeah, I remember you telling me about how much you wanted to go to school there," Gohan recalled a conversation he had with Rias a few months ago. The details were hazy at best, but she had briefly expressed her desire to go to the human world and visit Japan. She did take a trip there with Akeno and Kiba, then upon returning decided she wanted to conduct her schooling there. "So what's it like? I've never been to a public school or any… really," he chuckled lightly.
"There are a lot of interesting people, that's for sure," Sona commented while Akeno continued to giggle.
"Plenty of targets for my amusement," the sadist joked. Rias and Sona completely ignored her remark, as did everyone else in the room. Akeno had taken her sadism to new levels as the years went by. Although, the shock factor of her saying such lewd and ghastly things at times had completely worn off and become normal. Even Gohan was desensitized to her occasional vulgar implications and innuendos.
"Man," Gohan replied rather dejectedly. "Sounds like a blast! Certainly beats being cooped up in here. Going to school sounds more interesting than all the stuff I'm doing. Grayfia just keeps sending me more stuff to read!"
"We've been told you are preparing for the High-Class Exam. Lord Sirzechs has said you'd be ready to undertake it within the next year or two," Sona replied, causally pushing her glasses back up the bridge of her nose. "Quite frankly I'm astounded you've made so much progress. I've never heard of a reincarnated devil going from a Low-Class to a High-Class in less than a decade. Normally it takes a century or two."
"He's quite talented," Akeno praised, a slight smirk on her face. Then she blushed and cupped her face in a lewd manner. "I don't think Gohan has ever disappointed us."
"Why do you always have to make it sound like there are sexual undertones to everything you say, Akeno?" Gohan sighed, causing the girl to laugh.
"Life's more amusing when you insert sexual undertones."
"I would encourage you to come to school with us when you turn fifteen, but our school is female-only," Rias said changing the subject. A dejected look spread across her face at the realization that she probably wouldn't be able to go to school with Gohan. "Hm, that's disappointing. Perhaps… what would you say to cross-dressing? My new Bishop loves it!"
"No thanks," Gohan replied flatly. Rias' shoulders slumped in defeat.
"He wouldn't have to anyway," Sona interjected, a scowl on her face. "There's been talk amongst the staff to transition it to a co-ed school. Although, if they go through with it, Gohan wouldn't be able to attend until our third year. Those sorts of processes take time to finalize."
"My mom always wanted me to go to school," Gohan wondered aloud, a hand on his chin in thought. Granted it was a few years away if what Sona said was true, what could be the harm? It would certainly get him out of the Underworld and out of this house. A brief glance at Kuroka and Shirone had his smile curving downward a little bit. Kuroka would be a little too old to go to school by the time he was fifteen and Shirone would be a year too young. "Hey Rias, do you think-"
"HEY! STOP STANDING IN THE FIRE! YOU'LL WIPE THE RAID!"
Gohan audibly sighed as the attention in the room drifted to the older Nekoshou. She seemed pretty riled up if her tone was anything to go by, and her ire was directly intensely at the screen in front of her.
"What's she doing?" Sona's brow curved in slight horror. Gohan sighed as all their attention turned to the stationary Nekoshou.
She was sitting at a desk with about four computer monitors in front of her and neon glowing computer equipment. There was a small camera mounted on the far left monitor while a high-quality microphone was stationed neatly to her right. The black-haired cat-girl also had a pair of expensive headphones over her head, making her actual cat ears look artificial and fake. Perhaps that was all part of her plan.
"Serafall had a business trip to Japan in Kyoto to visit the Youkai faction a couple of months ago. She took Shirone and Kuroka to meet them and while they were there they did a bit of shopping. They picked up a few hobbies while they were there," Gohan gestured to Shirone who was sitting on the couch with a lap-table. Spread across it was multitudes of drawing equipment. Akeno and Sona strolled over and peered over the younger girl's shoulder, a deep blush spreading across their faces at the contents of Shirone's drawings.
"H-How lewd!" Sona gasped in horror.
"Oh my…" Akeno's voice was husky and low.
Shirone turned with a deadpan look on her features.
"Don't pretend you guys aren't a bunch of perverts. You think Sis' and I don't notice? We see the way you look at Gohan," the twelve-year-old stated with a smug expression. It had been so brutal and to the point that Akeno and Sona were rendered speechless for a few moments. After a couple more seconds of complete embarrassment, Sona retreated from the room, running to find her sister to inform her of the lewd machinations of the youngest member of the Leviathan family.
Akeno, on the other hand, shrugged innocently.
"Oh well, I've never tried to hide it. He is very handsome."
"At least you're honest," and with that, Shirone went back to drawing. Rias and Gohan witnessed the situation with abject frowns. Gohan knew that Rias had some kind of attraction to him. Be it romantic or simply admiration, she was clearly expressive and very wanting when she was around him. However, when it came to Akeno, the girl was so openly and unapologetically honest with her feelings.
A few months ago, Akeno had admitted freely in a casual conversation that she had a crush on him.
Despite that, it didn't affect their relationship at all. He wasn't sure how he felt about that. The girl had an almost ingenious facade. Behind all that sadism and joking attitude, there was a vulnerable person that he really didn't want to hurt. He never returned her feelings on the basis that he actually had no idea how to respond to it. Akeno was his friend and he wasn't sure if it went anywhere beyond that.
Sona, on the other hand, was a different matter entirely. He could never get a read on her true feelings. She left very little moments open where she wasn't emotionally fortified. She had an intelligent head on her shoulders and was overly formal with everyone around her, even her older sister who hated it immensely but never outwardly showed it. To hear that Sona might be possibly crushing on him slightly brought down his mood.
"Can't I have some kind of normal relationship with these girls?"
"So Shirone draws… questionable art. What does Kuroka do?" Rias asked, still slightly confused.
"Thanks for the three-month sub cats4lyf!" Kuroka giggled happily. Gohan chuckled lightly as he sheepishly scratched the back of his head. Rias' mouth fell agape when she heard those words come out of the older Nekomata's mouth.
"She's a streamer!?" Rias whispered in a state of shock.
"Is that what it is?" he replied. "She never really told me what it was. I mean, there's no harm in it right?"
"Why is all her equipment in your room?" Rias demanded hotly.
"She sleeps in here on the extendable couch. Turns out Shirone and Kuroka don't really like sleeping in rooms that aren't mine."
"They aren't doing anything… uh… lewd to you, right?"
"No. I'd know if they did. Serafall made it very clear. No activities of that nature are permitted to happen within the walls of this house."
Rias exhaled in relief. The crimson beauty strolled over and sat down on his bed, shuffling over towards him and crossing her legs. She got very close to him while he was lying on his stomach, slowly making his way through the pile of books that Grayfia had sent his way. He noted the blush that started to spread across her face during the silence between them. After a few moments, she started playing with her hands, as if she were trying to convince herself silently to start talking about a topic she knew she wasn't really supposed to talk about.
"Can… I talk to you about something?" she asked quietly. The tone of her voice was flooded with uncertainty and insecurity. Gohan had a feeling this was going to be a private conversation. Reaching over to the side of his bed, he summoned some of his demonic energy and placed three silencing runes on each side, effectively blocking out all sound around them. A rather convenient spell he had come up with, but in order to cope with Kuroka's constant late-night gaming sessions, he needed to come up with something to help him sleep. "Thanks."
"I assumed you wanted this to be a private conversation, given your tone."
"I do. It's…" she hesitated, giving Gohan a moment to guess.
"Is this about you wanting to be my queen? I already told you before, I'd think about it. Besides, I'm not even a High-Class Devil yet. I don't have any pieces. Even if I did, I don't think I'd want-"
"It's not about that!" Rias interrupted him suddenly. She took a breath and steadied herself. "At least, not entirely. As much as I want to be your queen, there is a more urgent problem on my mind," she explained nervously. There was a dejected look in her eye, something he had come to take notice of over the last year. If it wasn't her desire to become his queen, then it was obviously her other issue, one concerning a certain noble devil called Riser Phenex.
"Your arranged marriage?"
Rias could only nod in response.
Admittedly, Gohan wasn't all that happy with the situation Rias had been placed in. The idea of arranged marriages was an abhorrent concept in his mind. Chi-Chi had constantly reminisced aloud multiple times in the past how romantic her marriage had been with Goku. It had brought his mother such happiness to marry the man she had chosen, despite the confused look on his father's face in the wedding photos. Gohan knew his parents loved each other, that much was obvious to him. However, the idea that something like that could be arranged between the two parties without the consent of one of them was disgusting.
It was even more horrible when he had learned that it was Sirzechs and Rias' own father that had done it.
As much as he detested the idea of it all, Serafall warned him not to get involved. In reality, it had nothing to do with him and this was all part of traditions that had been followed and carried out throughout Devil-kind for millennia. Rias hated it, no doubt about it. Ever since Gohan had learned of it, Rias' attitude had changed drastically. She became rebellious and distrustful towards her own family. It was around the time she had become pushier to become his queen.
Becoming a part of his peerage would be an effective way to escape her responsibilities and loveless marriage. Gohan on some level, couldn't blame her at all. He'd hate to be stuck in that situation too. However, he couldn't in his right mind accept that kind of bound with her. When he eventually goes home, she'd have to stay here. As far as he was concerned, there probably wasn't going to be a way to return here.
He could be wrong, but he didn't want to risk-taking that chance.
"Are you so against me being your Queen?" Rias asked softly. There was a vulnerable look in her eyes as if she were almost pleading for him to speak the words that would set her free from her eventual torment. "We could do it right now, I could-" she stopped herself when she realized that the only reason Kuroka and Shirone were bound to Gohan was a forfeit of rights. The boy she loved didn't actually have any pieces. "Nevermind."
"Rias… I…" he trailed off, turning his head to gaze at Kuroka and Shirone who were casually going about their business. Akeno was still lightly harassing Shirone about her lewd artwork and from the looks of it, the older Nekomata was still yelling at her computer screen. When he eventually went home, he was skeptical as to what would happen with the two Nekoshou. Other than this place, they had no home or family to tie them here. Gohan was their only constant, as well as Serafall. That ultimately lead to the thought that they'd go with him.
Kuroka and Shirone had nothing to really tie them down here. Rias, on the other hand, had a family, a future, and a name to uphold.
"I don't think this is a good idea," Gohan managed to find his voice. "Trying to escape your arranged marriage through me seems a bit desperate. Are you sure there's no other way? I want to help you, but I don't even have any pieces yet. Even if I wanted to have a peerage, I can't help you escape that right now."
If there was one way to describe Rias' features after that, it would be crushed. Gohan forced himself not to cringe at his own inability to help her. This was a fight he wasn't capable of winning. He wasn't even sure if getting involved would be a good idea. This was family and Underworld politics, an area he still wasn't that well-versed on despite having studied and read about it since he got here. There were thousands of years of tradition and history to cover. It was going to take a while to really get through it all, and even then, there was no guarantee he'd remember everything.
"What should I do then!?" Rias cried desperately. "I don't even like Riser! I can't imagine living my life in some kind of loveless marriage. I want to choose who I spend the next thousand years with. It's not fair!"
It really wasn't.
All Gohan could do for his friend was gaze at her sympathetically as she burst into tears. It was almost like he could see the walls around her closing in. It was horrible to watch. There must be something he could do.
"I have to do something," Rias croaked through her emotional state. "I refuse to have my life dictated for me. I-I can't live like that."
"I'll help in any way I can, Rias. You're my friend. I don't want to see you like this," Gohan reassured her. She wiped away her tears, having noticed that Akeno had seen her crying. Shirone and the fallen angel hybrid were watching from a distance, sharing a quiet conversation while Kuroka was flipping out over her video game. The Gremory Heir and her savior shared a moment of silence as they each tried to think of a way to get her out of this situation.
Then suddenly, it was as if a light appeared above Rias' head. Her features brightened as she hopped off his bed, dispelling the suppression wards Gohan had put up. A determined smile erupted across her face.
"I got it!"
Before he even had the chance to question her, she dashed out of the room and teleported away, leaving the occupants of the room speechless, sans Kuroka who didn't even notice.
"Let me guess, her marriage?" Akeno queried. Gohan nodded grimly.
"Yeah, though she seemed to have something figured out."
"Well, she is quite bright when she puts her mind to it. Maybe she's figured out a way to get out of it?"
Gohan shifted uncomfortably, wishing he knew what Rias had suddenly thought of. He was happy that she wasn't moping anymore, but something about that smile of hers really clicked with him. She had something planned, and for some reason… he knew it was going to involve him.
"Let's hope that's the case."
Gohan stifled a yawn as he blinked the sleep out of his eyes.
It had not been long since Rias confided in him about the situation concerning her arranged marriage. He found himself worried about her, wondering and brainstorming ways on how he could help. She had cut that conversation short when an idea had struck her and ran out of the room. He hadn't seen her for about two weeks since then. It became very clear she was busy doing something important.
Her situation had been bothering him for over a week, enough to the point where he'd lie awake some nights just thinking how he could help her. However, it was just like Serafall had told him many times before. This was a problem that couldn't be resolved with strength— his strength specifically. This was Rias' problem and only she could figure out a way to fix it. That didn't stop him from feeling like he was failing her as a friend. There had to be something he could do… right?
Sometimes he hated the underworld's politics. It was no different than a deathmatch, the only difference being it was fought with words instead of your fists.
Despite all that was plaguing his adolescent mind on this particular morning, he still pushed himself from his mattress into a sitting position. For the first time in a while, he wasn't feeling like himself. A little under the weather perhaps. As far as Gohan was aware, devil's did not get the traditional sicknesses that humans got. Even still, he felt different. His body felt different.
A quick glance around the room revealed Shirone still fast asleep on her bed, while Kuroka was very much awake, reading some comic she had found to be rather interesting while lying comfortably on the couch.
"Morning," Gohan yawned again. "Sleep well?"
"You could say that," Kuroka replied slyly, avoiding his gaze completely.
One of Gohan's eyebrows curved at that response. He and his two Nekoshou companions hadn't been together long, but the young half-saiyan had started to get to know them pretty well, enough to even tell when one of them was up to something. Kuroka was especially easy to read. The playful smirk, the way she sat, and her wandering eyes. Shirone was far more subtle. The younger Nekoshou typically tended to gain a look of guilt and always averted his or Serafall's gaze.
Kuroka was far more unapologetic with her mischievous side.
With a grumble of his stomach, Gohan yawned one last time before wiping the sleep out of his eyes and giving his cheeks a nice sharp slap to wake himself up. He threw off the covers and went to stand up. He went to make his way towards the door and head to the kitchen, instead he ended up face planting into the carpet.
Gohan blinked incredulously at his clumsiness. Then, a soft yawn and shuffling of sheets signaled that Shirone had woken up at the loud tumble. The snap of a book closing drew their attention to Kuroka, as the older cat-girl moved to the end of the couch, resting her head in her hands as she leered at Gohan's prone form.
"It's unlike you to be so uncoordinated, Master," she said with a playful smirk.
"G-Gohan…" Shirone pointed to his back, confusion clear on her face. "Y-You have a…" she trailed off. Gohan sat up again and turned his head to face his backside. His eyes almost popped out of their sockets when he saw a very familiar brown appendage protruding from his back.
"M-MY TAIL!" he exclaimed in shock. He shot to his feet, immediately feeling the loss of balance for being without his tail for so long. He remembered a long time ago from when he was still a young child he used to do all kinds of things with it until Piccolo removed it from him during his training.
He also remembered the time during his fight against the invading Saiyans, Vegeta, and Nappa. He had somehow tapped into the infallible power.
A Saiyan's tail was a great source of their power. Their true power according to Vegeta. The older Saiyan on occasion still lamented missing the key trait of their heritage. Gohan never thought much of it, but clearly he and his father didn't share the same sentiments as the Saiyan prince.
Now it was back, somehow. Had it just regrown overnight? He thought he'd never get it back again! No wonder his balance was so off!
A few seconds of panicked examination had him rounding on Kuroka, the only person who lacked the obvious shock in the room. Her smug grin didn't go unnoticed by the young Saiyan. If it wasn't obvious to anyone in the room, Kuroka very clearly had something to do with the impromptu return of his tail.
"You're welcome by the way," Kuroka said before Gohan even had the chance to open his mouth.
"You brought back my tail…? How?" Gohan asked, his mind still whirling at a million miles an hour. The amputated appendage remained completely unhealable, resistant to even senzu beans and Dende's healing. What had Kuroka done to bring it back? He knew this strange universe had some of the most bizarre powers he had seen, but whatever his bishop had done was beyond him.
"I used my Senjutsu to heal you," Kuroka explained, then her face dropped as she pouted. "You don't sound very thankful. I thought you'd be happy."
Truthfully, he wasn't sure if he should be thankful. According to all his friends back home, the tail proved to be problematic on far too many occasions. The uncontrollable Great Ape form was a force of nature, filled with rage with no proper direction. Friends become foes and the primal state was difficult to deal with, not to mention its destructive capabilities.
"I don't really know what to think," Gohan grimaced as he turned one more time to give his tail a look. The wavy appendage could be a source of many issues down the line now. He could probably ask Serafall or someone skilled enough to remove it should it cause too much trouble, but that would be incredibly painful, not to mention an essential part of him loathed the idea. "My tail has been pretty dangerous in the past. I don't exactly know how to control it."
"What?" Kuroka blurted out, her smug grin now gone, replaced with confusion. "How is it…? What does that even mean? All Nekomata get stronger the more tails they—" she paused for a moment as Gohan gave her a pointed look. "Right… Saiyan. Not Nekomata. Not my fault your stupid tail looks like a cat's tail."
"It's a monkey's tail, Sis," Shirone corrected. Kuroka groaned.
"I know—I know! I just thought since Gohan doesn't talk about it, that he was ashamed of it being missing… I know I would be pretty salty if my tails got cut off," the older sibling crossed her arms over her bountiful chest and huffed.
Gohan allowed himself to sigh as he sat back down, crossing his legs in the process. He cupped his chin with a hand as he descended into thought. Was it wise to explain the dangers around his tail to them? Should he even be worried? Serafall had told him there were a day and night cycle in the underworld with an artificial sun and moon. Should he be at all worried about the moon?
Even then, if he were to visit the human world any time soon, that was bound to have a moon. It only seemed right that they knew of the dangers and what to expect should things go wrong. His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by knocking at the door.
"Wakey wakey~!" Serafall stepped in, clad in her magical girl outfit, along with an apron saying 'Don't feel up the cute magical chef'. "It's time to get up and… and…" she trailed off when she saw the tail waving happily on Gohan's backside. "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! IT'S SO CUTE!"
Gohan failed to get out of the way in time as his King practically threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around him in the process. Tackling him to the ground, her mischievous hands immediately went to his tail.
"H-Hey! Relax Serafall! Can you just— OW!" Gohan reacted and smacked the Leviathan's bare hands away from his sensitive tail. It had sent shock waves of pain up his spine, but he had temporarily forgotten just how sensitive it was to have a tail. All it took was a firm grasp on the tail to render his overbearing strength moot. Just another weakness to cover for the future. He'd have to learn how to overcome that if he planned on keeping the appendage around.
Serafall pouted at having her hands smacked away by her precious Queen.
"Aw come on! At least let me touch it."
"No! Hands to yourself!" Gohan snapped in annoyance. Seriously… this morning was turning out to be a real drag. All he was trying to do was get his thoughts in order. So far, that task was proving to be far more difficult than it normally was.
"Spoilsport," she mumbled. "So how exactly did it regrow?" she asked, suddenly changing the subject. The way Serafall was able to switch how she was feeling on a dime, often gave Gohan pause. He guessed after you've been alive for as long as she has, you learned to ignore the little nuisances and look at the more positive side of life.
"You knew?" Gohan replied, somewhat shocked. Serafall shrugged innocently.
"I've had to dress you on the rare occasion where you've trained so hard you've passed out. That tiny little stump on your backside had to be something."
Gohan sighed once again, feeling defeated at her reasoning.
Of course, she'd know.
There wasn't much about him that Serafall didn't know. He had told her most of his past and what he had been through. He had neglected a few minor details like the tail, but she was intelligent enough to put the pieces together. The only thing she still had yet to see personally was his ascended Super Saiyan form.
He still hadn't used it since he got here. Serafall said he'd need an entire dimension to himself if he was going to train to master that form and she didn't want to bother Ajuka with something like that right now. She promised that once he had made High-class that he could request something like that.
"Well, if you must know," Gohan directed his attention towards Kuroka, giving her another pointed glare. "Kuroka used some kind of magic on me when I was asleep."
"Oh~?" Serafall hummed suggestively as she turned and looked at the older cat-girl. "Did she now? I guess a kitty needs to be punished."
"Hey," Kuroka sat up, goosebumps already forming on her skin. "Whoa now! It's not what you think! Nothing lewd happened!"
"You used Bouchujutsu, didn't you!?" Serafall accused, pointing at the girl for extra measure. Something in Serafall's words caused Kuroka to get heated if the massive red blush across her face wasn't any indicator. If Gohan had to guess, it was the only word she had used that he had no understanding of.
"Bouchujutsu…?" Gohan mumbled, scratching his head. "Whats—"
"I DID NOT!" Kuroka denied, completely interrupting him. "HE'S THIRTEEN! I JUST…" Kuroka trailed off, mumbling to herself. Serafall leaned forward, radiating with power, a visible blue outline becoming visible around her body as she started giggling sinisterly. Serafall could be very intimidating sometimes.
"Speak up, Kurokie."
"I JUST SPOONED HIM, ALRIGHT!?"
The room was thrown into silence. Gohan gave Kuroka a strange look while Serafall and Shirone gave her unconvinced stares. It took a few moments of silence for the older cat-girl to fold under all the attention, but eventually, she just pouted and shrunk back into the couch, mumbling a few inaudible words as she avoided Serafall's wrath.
"Please ask permission before you resort to sneaking into my bed in the future," Gohan deadpanned.
"All we need is permission?" Shirone perked up at his words before the half-Saiyan groaned, knowing very clearly that he completely walked into that one.
"Preferably, stay in your own bed," Gohan rolled his eyes, already exhausted with this conversation. "Still though, I'm not sure how I feel about having my tail back. I hope it doesn't cause any problems."
"What do you mean?" Serafall retorted. The half-Saiyan grimaced as he tried to think of a way to explain the other legendary Saiyan transformation, one that fell out of use when his father discovered Super Saiyan. While Super Saiyan was the superior transformation, Gohan couldn't help but think if there was something deeper to the Great Ape transformation.
Vegeta had boasted on many occasions that he had managed to tame the wild power of the Great Ape. If he could do it, then why couldn't Gohan?
"Said it was dangerous or somethin'," Kuroka said offhandedly, picking up her comic again. Her mood was clearly ruined.
"Dangerous how?" Serafall asked, betraying a look of curiosity.
"Well, it allows me to transform if I stare at the full moon."
Silence permeated the room, then suddenly Serafall and Kuroka both simultaneously burst into a fit of laughter. Both girls were desperately holding their sides, struggling to repress the giggles that were bubbling out of them like an overflowing cup. Kuroka was wiping away tears of laughter while Shirone had brought a pillow up to her mouth to muffle her own laughter.
"What!? Do you turn into a wear-monkey or something?" Kuroka wheezed out.
"Uh, yeah… I guess."
Kuroka's laughing intensified as she quite literally fell off the couch. Serafall had toppled over, rolling around on the floor. The image stuck in their minds of a monkey around the size of Gohan, running around swinging from trees and throwing bananas at his enemies.
"Guys I'm serious! This is a big deal!"
"Seven hells, you can't be serious," Kuroka laughed. "I gotta see this."
Gohan suppressed another groan as he waited patiently for all the girls to get their laughter out of their systems. They didn't know how dangerous it was to face off against the Saiyan's Great Ape form. He didn't blame them for their ignorance. They hadn't seen the horror that Vegeta had inflicted upon himself, Krillin, and his father. Gohan had been so young at the time, he couldn't remember every moment of the fight, but if there was one thing he remembered above all else, it was the emotions that stayed with him. Anger, crippling fear, terror. It was the only time where Vegeta had ever truly been a horrifying opponent.
Then they had faced Freeza, and the horror he had felt towards the Saiyan prince instantly became overshadowed by the ruthless galactic tyrant.
Surprisingly enough, it just so happened to be Shirone that came around first, seeing the serious look of concern on Gohan's face. She managed to quash her laughter enough to put the pillow down and walk over to him. She sat down in front of him and with a look of concern on her face.
"How dangerous… is this form?" she asked calmly. Gohan ran a hand through his thick hair that hadn't changed since his fight with Cell. Serafall had taken it upon herself to cut his hair and since she liked this style, she always made it look the same as it did when he fell into her arms that day. Gohan also noted the way Shirone's cat-ears twitched when he seemed aggravated. It was clear the girl didn't like to see him so down.
"In my experience, it's brought nothing but pain and suffering to those I care about," he answered honestly. Kuroka and Serafall had since stopped laughing, immediately feeling guilty when the truth of Gohan's words hit them. Kuroka likened it to going too far in her Senjutsu training. Take it too far and you lose your mind to blood lust and hate.
It required intense meditation in order to withstand the hate and misery that she absorbed.
"You can't control it?" Serafall asked, the concern now seeping into her features. Gohan only nodded in response.
"I don't know how to. One of my— well…" Gohan trailed off. He wasn't sure if Vegeta counted as a friend. "I know of someone that can control it, but I don't know where he is anymore," Gohan said, shooting Serafall a knowing look. She immediately understood and didn't push any further. Kuroka gained a thoughtful look that Gohan caught onto.
"Are you conscious while transformed? Are you aware of your surroundings?" she asked. Gohan shook his head.
"I haven't transformed into that form since I was a kid. I couldn't have been older than maybe four or five the last time it happened. I don't remember the specifics."
"Why don't you try again?" Kuroka asked, stunning the boy. She shrugged at his response. "If you said that some other guy managed to control it, surely you can do it as well. We'll help," she finished with a supportive smile. "Besides, I've been meaning to get in a workout. Been stuck inside for like a week," she laughed, gesturing to her computer.
"I could use a break from all the paperwork…" Serafall mumbled to herself.
"Guys I really don't think that's a good idea," Gohan said, worried that the outcome of this conversation might lead them to see the monstrous transformation. "I'd be completely out of control! I could hurt one of you."
"Aw, aren't you sweet," Kuroka cooed. "We'll be fine. Besides, we got a Devil King to help us. How hard can it be to handle?"
Serafall did her best not to sound awkward when she laughed at the comment.
Few devils in the Underworld actually knew that if Gohan went all out, she'd get totally rolled with no contest. Gohan's raw strength was far too much to handle, even with all of her magic. Despite being the strongest female devil in all of existence, the only real person that could potentially match Gohan would probably be Sirzechs.
Although, that was just her imagination. She had no real clue how strong his ascended form was, but if his Super Saiyan form was anything to go by, she didn't exactly want to be on the receiving end of it. Sirzechs was an absolute nightmare to fight against. No sane person would dare challenge the current Devil King.
Grayfia Lucifer, formerly Lucifuge, his current wife, had been one of the few people to actually fight Sirzechs towards the end of the Great War. They had fought, and she had lost badly. However, it had been that fight where she had fallen in love with the man. It was a topic that the Devil King's wife looked back on fondly, instead of bitterly. However, even she had to admit.
Sirzechs true power was beyond frightening.
"Are you okay with this, Gohan?" Serafall asked suddenly. Her Queen turned to her with a look of uncertainty on his face. "If you're not comfortable with it, I'm sure we can find a way to stop the transformation."
"No," Gohan said easily. "Thinking on it, this might be a good opportunity to train a part of me I wasn't able to before. My only concern is my mental state. There's no telling who I could hurt if I get out of control."
"If it worries you so badly, I could invite Grayfia to help with the training," Serafall suggested. Grayfia was almost as strong as she was.
Gohan thought for a moment on the idea. It wouldn't be the first time he had done some light training with Grayfia. She was pretty strong in her own right, but the training sessions had never really involved her being an opponent. She was more a demonstration teacher if anything. He only got to see the surface levels of her power when she was showing him how to perform certain magical spells.
"I would be more comfortable with this if you and Grayfia were there to contain me if things get out of hand," Gohan replied.
"Cool! So, after breakfast then…?" Kuroka cut in, her playful grin showing. Once again, Gohan sighed.
"I mean… if you all insist."
It seemed he wasn't going to be able to get out of this one so easily.
A point of contention for some might be that Gohan is getting his tail back. No, that does not mean Super Saiyan Four is going to be a thing in this story. I have other ideas in store that will be revealed next chapter.
Cheers for reading. Hope to see you all soon. Ideally, not another year from now! ;)